PRAIRIE GROVE (KFSM) - In the first couple of rounds of the playoffs, teams often find themselves facing an unfamiliar opponent. On Friday, that won’t be the case for Prairie Grove.
"2012 in Stuttgart, I remember that game," reminisces senior quarterback John David Elder. "I went to it, a really good game. They were still tough back then, just as physical and strong."
That was the state semi finals, where Stuttgart beat the Tigers en route to a state title. While none of this years players were on that team, several still made the trip. And they remember it well, if not fondly.
"We left our all on the field they left their all on the field, but they came out on top," says senior Dustin Burton.
"We definitely want to get passed them this year and make it to state," adds Elder. "That's the goal every year."
Long time coach Danny Ashier, of course, was there.
"It sits in the back of my mind."
But the team’s familiarity with each other runs deeper, Elder points out.
"They run most of the same offense we do, Wing-T."
Of course, Prairie Grove's defense is used to seeing that famed tricky Tiger offense in practice. This is a definite advantage for the defense, and the defensive coordinator, says Abshier.
"If anyone knows how to stop the Wing-T it’s Craig Laird, cause he works against it every day. I think that’s gotta help."
"It’s kind of like playing each other, you know, says Burton, who plays linebacker and running back. "You should know every play, you should know how to read it and know what they’re doing as good as you know what you’re doing."
But of course, that advantage goes both ways. Still Coach Abshier, in his 22 post season as a head coach, is confident in his squad, noting with a wink that "we’ve been doing it a little longer than they have."
And besides the cheering fans, there’s another advantage to playing at home, says Burton.
"Well you know jet lag, but here you’ve got bus lag, I mean you’re all cramped up on a little bus."
Abshier again thinks back to 2012.
"That’s a long trip, that’s what sticks in my mind, I’m glad we’re not going down there. I’m glad to have them over here and be hosting."